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Ireland | Remote Work Could Rejuvenate Rural Communities

We don’t know yet what the “new normal” will look like, but we do know that remote work can work – with the right supports. In Ireland, the pull of jobs in the city and abroad has hollowed out rural areas, and young graduates have little incentive to return home after completing their studies in Dublin. Many young graduates from rural areas would jump at the chance to stay put and pursue their careers remotely, rather than facing crippling rents in Dublin, or a crippling commute. Now is the time for a paradigm shift in working life to rejuvenate rural communities, argues Luke Kent. […]

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Letter From The Farm | The Resilience and Privilege of a Rural Homestead

We’re back on Brindusa’s farm in Romania, where the Covid-19 crisis has halted her main sales. On the flip side she’s seeing a lot more interest in local food. She’s been doing a lot of thinking about food justice and the informal economy. The lockdown has made her take stock of her privilege. And so this year she’s determined to feed more people than ever. The only question is, how will she distribute this year’s bumper crop? […]

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Rough Ride for East European Workers in Seasonal Veg

Low cost labour intensive vegetable production has been under strain in recent weeks. Tens of thousands of seasonal workers have moved from east to west –  as they do each year. This year is not, however, a typical year. Covid19 has added new dimensions, while also shining a spotlight on an otherwise hidden army of harvesters. But is harvesting the white gold more valuable than the health of Romanian farm workers? […]

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EU Pesticide Risk Assessment Practices Slammed in New Study

A new peer-reviewed paper has identified systemic failings in Europe’s pesticide risk assessment process. Written by Claire Robinson and a group of experts in law, policy, and toxicology, our paper outlines how these failings could seriously undermine ambitions for sustainable agriculture and a “green recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic – and proposes a comprehensive agenda for reform. […]

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Czech Republic | Keeping Farming & Food in the Family

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, our creaking food systems have triggered a crisis within a crisis. Covid-19 has sounded the alarm on the planet’s unsustainable agricultural systems. Small-scale farms are vital links in the resilient local supply chains we need to build. But in the Czech Republic small farmers face challenges, and a six-week closure of farmers markets has hit hard. Louise Kelleher reports. […]

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Coping with Covid – Struggles and Resilience of Small-Scale Cheesemakers in Italy

For Raflazz farm resilience is a way of life. The Adami family has been making artisanal cheese for generations here in the hills of Piedmont. When Italy shut down its restaurants on March 9, the farm had nowhere to sell its cheeses and meat. In another brutal blow, receipts from the farmhouse restaurant and B&B disappeared overnight. Raflazz is adapting fast, but like many small-scale farms it will need life support to survive the lockdown. Emanuele Amo reports from Piedmont. […]

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Changing the Way Children Learn About Farms & Food

What role can education play in the green transition? Educational ecologist Ans Rossy argues that farms can bridge the growing gap between city children and food, farming and nature, and thus pave the way to a sustainable economy. In an interview with Hans Wetzels for ARC2020, Rossy makes a case for forging connections between farms and schools to help the next generation understand the interdependence of ecosystems, to make learning more relevant, and to open up economic opportunities for farmers. […]

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Winning the Battle with the Agri-Giant Next Door

Czech organic farmer Libor Kožnar has won his yearlong battle with Agrofert, the agribusiness empire operating next to his small holding. He lost the organic certification for his wheat due to fertiliser drift from an Agrofert sprayer. Agrofert is a multimillion euro conglomerate with ties to the Czech prime minister, currently under investigation in a conflict of interest case by the European Commission. […]

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Effects of Coronavirus on Agricultural Production – a First Approximation (part 2)

Agricultural production is on track for this year, and the EU is self-sufficient in most areas. Despite the challenges of the coronavirus crisis we have little reason to worry about food supply in the EU. This was Sebastian Lakner’s tentative conclusion in part 1 of his review of the available data. But his findings come with some major caveats. Trade in commodities must continue to flow to guarantee food supply in the context of the EU’s interconnected agribusiness model. Here in part 2 Sebastian Lakner examines another critical factor: labour and seasonal migrant workers. […]

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UK | Coronavirus Diary: the Virus That Did a No-Deal Brexit on our Food Supply

It seems inconceivable that it was only a year ago when the UK was due to crash out of the EU under a no deal Brexit. Thankfully that crisis was averted. Leading up to that momentous non-event, I wrote about what might happen to our food supply in the event that our smooth trading relationship with the EU broke down utterly. One year on, we find ourselves in a remarkably similar position […]

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Framing Farming – Nationalism, Food Security and Food Sovereignty

As the Covid-19 outbreak hits the economy, we may experience a paradigm shift that no one expected. Now is the time to unpack the difference between food security and food sovereignty. And better understand how these terms are used by different groups. Igor Tomasz Olech looks at how these concepts are framed in the EU, and how Poland is ripe for a conversation about food sovereignty. […]